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Adaptations PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Adaptations. How did the tiger get its stripes?. How did the anteater get such a long tongue?. Why are there so many cypress trees in the swamp?.

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How did the tiger get its stripes?

How did the anteater get such a long tongue?


Why are there so many cypress trees in the swamp?


These questions can be answered by understanding variations & adaptations

Variations: Each toucan has a unique color pattern

Adaptations: The toucan's beak is adapted to grab and crush fruit and nuts. It is strong like a nutcracker.


  • Any difference between members of the same species


  • Adaptations are traits that help an organism survive and reproduce.

  • Adaptations explain why polar bears are successful in the cold, icy climates and cacti are successful in the dry, warm climates.


  • A hummingbird’s long thin beak can get to the nectar in flowers.


  • The pelican’s beak is adapted to scoop up fish to eat.

(Only in cartoons do they use their beaks to transport fish to safety!)


  • The woodpecker’s chisel-like beak allows it to drill holes in trees and eat the insects within.

Artificial Selection

  • nature provides variation, humans select variations that are useful.

  • Example - a farmer breeds only his best livestock

Natural Selection

Process by which individuals who are better adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce than other members of the same species.

Favorable traits are “selected” over unfavorable traits.

England’s famous peppered moths (Biston betularia)

The peppered moth comes in light and dark

(melanic) forms. Pollution from the Industrial

Revolution darkened the tree trunks in the moths’

ecosystem, mostly by killing the light-coloured

covering lichen (plus soot).

The lighter forms, which had been well camouflaged against the light background, now ‘stood out,’ and so birds more readily ate them. Therefore, the proportion of dark moths increased dramatically. Later, as pollution was cleaned up, the light moth became predominant again.

The shift in moth numbers was carefully documented through catching them in traps. Release-recapture experiments confirmed that in polluted forests, more of the dark form survived for recapture, and vice versa. In addition, birds were filmed preferentially eating the less camouflaged moths off tree trunks.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t!

Peppered moths resting on three different tree trunks. (left) Two moths (one typical and one melanic) resting on the dark bark of an oak tree near the industrial city of Liverpool, U.K. (center) The same two moths on a nearby beech tree covered by a combination of green algae and lichen. (right) Typical and melanic moths resting on light-colored lichen on an oak tree in rural Wales. Note the striking differences in camouflage efficiency.

Natural Selection

  • Charles Darwin explained that evolution occurs by means of natural selection.

  • Darwin traveled around the world 1831-1836 as the naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle.

  • Darwin studied the greatest diversity ever seen among organisms from beetles to finches to tortoises.

  • Darwin studied finches on the Galapagos Islands; he noticed that each species of finch was well suited for its life; finches that ate insects had sharp beaks; finches that ate seeds had strong, wide beaks

The gradual changes or evolution of horses over time

Predator Adaptations

help them catch and kill their prey

Shark’s Sharp Teeth

Owl’s big eyes

Cheetah’s ability to sprint

Jellyfish’s poisonous tentacles

Sticky goo in carnivorous plants

Prey Adaptations

help them avoid becoming prey

Alertness & speed of deer/antelope

Smelly spray of a skunk


Warning color of poison dart frogs

Mimicry – when animal looks like a more dangerous one



  • Any trait which allows an organism to blend in with its surroundings.

Dead leaf mantis

CountershadedIbex are almost invisible in the Israeli desert.

An infant Cuttlefish blends into the surrounding sand substrate.

Anolis caroliensis showing blending camouflage and counter-shading

The stripes of Plains Zebras blend together making it difficult to distinguish an individual animal.

A leaf insect mimics its surroundings to avoid being eaten.

Tawny Frogmouth blends in with color and texture of tree bark

A flounder blends in with its environment.

Behavioral Adaptation

Developed within the lifetime of an organism

Things organisms do to survive

Not inherited

Example: dog salivating when they hear a bell

Example: Large Muscles, bird calls, migration

Structural Adaptation

Controlled by genes

Inherited from one generation to the next

Example: Human height, fur on a bear, beak of a bird

Behavioral vs. Structural Adaptation

How does an organism “get” an adaptation?

  • An organism does not “get” an adaptation – they are born with them.

  • Adaptations come from variations in the genes.


The 2 on the right are plains pocket mice, Perognathus flavescens

The 2 on the left are rock pocket mice, Perognathus intermedius

If you were a hawk, which mouse would you most likely eat from this forest floor? Why?

When the environment changes, the types of adaptations that are beneficial also may change.

Now, pretend the forest floor is covered with snow – now which mouse would the hawk most likely eat?

How an adaptation gradually changes a species.

  • Imagine a bird species.

  • A bird is born that has a longer beak than other birds in the species.

  • Longer beak helps bird capture more food.

  • Bird is able to live longer and breed more.

  • Bird passes gene for longer beak to offspring and they live longer & have more offspring & gene continues to be inherited.

  • Can take thousands of years for the mutation to be found in the entire species.

What if one of these birds were to have just slightly better eyesight than the others?

What if one of these male frogs were able to croak just a little louder than the other frogs?

What adaptations can you identify in these organisms?


  • The study of where organisms live is called biogeography.

  • Animals living in various biomes must possess characteristics and adaptations to survive the environmental conditions of the biome.

  • Example: Tundra is very cold and dry therefore animals that live here such as wolves, caribou, and foxes grow thick fur in the winter to keep warm.

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